Travellers’ Tales – Meet Iuliana from Authentic Travels

Meet Iuliana from Authentic Travels

I created the “Travellers’ Tales” section to give other travellers an opportunity to talk about their travels. Today I would like to introduce you to Iuliana , a travel blogger from Romania . She blogs at Authentic Travels .

I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales, fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.

Read about Iuliana’s travels here,

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I am Iuliana – a travel writer from Romania. Traveling and writing are my passions so combining the two of them has become the highlight of my life. If I don’t write, I am not myself. If I don’t travel, again I am not myself. I can’t imagine the world without these two things, which I like to call the ‘passions of my life.’

My travel blog can be found at Authentic Travels . There, I share my travel journals and photos, my latest published articles in different magazines, and interviews with other travel bloggers or worldwide travelers.

2. What is your earliest travel memory?

My earliest travel memory is when I was studying architecture and restoration of historic monuments at the University of Genoa, Italy. It was the first time I traveled on my own out of Romania. During those 6 months, I traveled throughout Italy over weekends and holidays, discovering the country. However, as Italy is literally packed with historic sites and monuments, even now I can say that there are parts of Italy I haven’t explored.

3. Where was your last holiday?

My last holiday / or research trip was in the Balkan region. The idea of this trip was to explore and better understand the neighboring countries of Romania – mainly the countries of former Yugoslavia – Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. While Bosnia and Herzegovina was a pleasant surprise for me (I was expecting them to have no tourism infrastructure after the homeland war), Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro had lots of tourism infrastructure, but also tourist crowds.

4. What was the best thing you did there?

In the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Sarajevo, I met a lot of friendly locals. I wouldn’t say that it was a great thing to hear their war experiences and how members of their families lost their lives during the 4-year siege of Sarajevo, but it made me feel close to them. The inhabitants of Sarajevo were more open and friendly with me (without any side interest) than many accommodation owners where I stayed in Slovenia/ Croatia / and Montenegro (where they’d have had a vested interest to promote their tourism services).

This experience led me to the awareness that the best things you experience in life are those that are free and offered to you unconditionally.

5.  What was your best holiday ever? Why?

Visiting Jordan was my best trip ever. The country is fairly small and easy to explore as a whole during a short amount of time. At the same time it’s safe and even when I traveled alone there, I had no problem during my 5-week road trip. During this trip, I used Couchsurfing a lot in order to connect with locals. I even ended up staying with refugees from Palestine and Syria. They turned out to be fantastic, well-intended, and intellectual people (of course, I researched their profiles in advance and spoke with them beforehand to see what kind of people they are).

To top it all, Petra – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World made me fall in love with it.

6. What is your favorite travel destination?

Iuliana from Authentic Travels

The Monastery

I didn’t have a favorite place in the world until visiting Petra. After exploring this extensive site for 4 full days, I can say that I finally have my favorite place in the world – it’s Petra. The Nabataean tombs, the reddish mountains, and the Bedouin – all contributed to the fantastic atmosphere I experienced in Petra. I think that what mostly sticks to my mind when I think of Petra is that amazing moment when you enter from the narrow canyon (the Siq) in the space that opens in front of the Treasury. It’s an experience that impacted me forever.

7. What is the one thing one must do there?

A visit to Petra is not complete if you haven’t hiked to any of its religious sites up in the mountains. The way up to the Monastery and the circuit you can do up to the High Place of Sacrifice have so many things to offer – one of the best views ever, Bedouin people inviting you for tea at each bend of the trail, and an energy you can feel only going up there.

8. Who is your favorite travel companion/s?

At the moment I travel by myself so I can’t say that I have a travel companion. I travel very slowly and want to explore one place at a time. It usually takes me one month to explore a small country (such as Macedonia, Albania, Jordan) but two or three months for bigger countries (Thailand, Morocco). I wish to travel someday with a campervan and a dog.

9. Name one item you must have when traveling.

That’s easy – it’s my photo camera. I am a visual person, I remember every detail of my trip if I look at a picture, so taking pictures is essential for me. Of course, after taking pictures all over the place I am visiting, then I just sit down and watch. This way I make sure that when I look at those photos, I will remember what I felt when I was there.

10. Your best travel advice?

Travel at your own pace – I‘ve started to enjoy my travel experiences only when I’ve understood what my travel pace is and implemented it into my travels - no matter what others say/ think. For example, in the big capitals, I need a week to explore the places, find hidden gems and discover my own favorite places. How would I be able to find my favorite place in a big city if I’d run from one museum to another within a city break?

This has been very frustrating for me in the past (when I had a limited amount of time to travel) and this is the biggest achievement for me since I’ve been traveling on a long term – I don’t run and I have time to find my own places, the ones that resonate with my soul.

11. The one place you want to visit before you die?

That’s a good question, I have several places in mind but not one in particular. However, by the time I die, hopefully, the countries from the Middle East will be safe to travel to again- Syria, Yemen, Lebanon. I have a weakness for the Middle Eastern countries. It seems that I lived there in a previous life, so no matter what I do, I always look for new trips in the area. Maybe that’s why my favorite country so far is Jordan, and Petra is my favorite place in the world. There’s an unconscious reason for all these preferences, I am sure of that.

12. Any embarrassing travel moments?

As much as I love Jordan, men are very insistent there. I was in Rum village, at the entrance to the Wadi Rum Desert. I stayed with a local family for one night, dined with them, showed them pictures from my country, played with the kids (many of them), offered to help the pregnant wife the following day to the hospital etc.

Before leaving, the man insisted several times that I should go with him to the desert. He said that I could stay for free in his camp, camel/ jeep tours everything was free for me – everything with an additional unwritten ‘if’ ... He mentioned that in their tribe they have wife, girlfriend, mistress, whatever they want in terms of sex. Then he even continued to send me messages after I eventually got rid of him and left Wadi Rum for good.

13. Worst travel experience?

Surprisingly, the worst travel moments I experienced were in the most touristic countries. Croatia is so touristic that in summer tourists easily double the local population. Everywhere you see ‘Apartmani’ for rent. They live off tourism and this is great but unfortunately, they forget how to be human. They forget that they host humans in their houses and that those humans actually pay to be treated like humans and not like walking money-bags.

I was in Split where I rented the cheapest room on Airbnb. It didn’t have a kitchen included in the description but because I was feeling sick after two food poisonings in Croatia, I kindly asked the owner to give me access to their kitchen. The answer was cold and distant: ‘No, this is a cheap place, no kitchen’. I had no fridge to store my food and it was over 30 C degrees in my room. I had no place to make tea for my ill stomach. I had to go eat other bad food in restaurants, I couldn’t eat something better for my stomach that would help me recover faster.

I traveled through Croatia for almost one month and unfortunately, similar things happened to me (the above-mentioned one was not a single event). The food poisoning returned several times because I couldn’t find decent food in restaurants and I couldn’t find a decent place to cook something on my own. Prices for a whole apartment were very expensive and when I asked people for help, they looked at me as if I was asking them to rob a bank.

14. How can people connect with you?

My travel blog: Authentic Travels

Thank you, Iuliana , for sharing your fascinating adventures with us!

I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales, fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.

Who will I feature next? I’ve got an exciting line-up ahead. Make sure you subscribe to the free newsletter so you don’t miss out on some exciting travel tales.

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